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FAS - the Scottish angle

#1
"The Scottish Angle" ... there's a pun in there somewhere. No? Ah, my coat, thanks...

Anyway folks, there's obviously going to be more Scotland-specific news as details continue to emerge, and as political fallout in Scotland also continues. Incidentally, I have no connection at all with the "Save the Scottish Regiments" campaign, which whether you agree with it or not does seem to have genuinely contributed to the saving of one Scottish battalion. So I thought there was room for a separate thread so as not to clog up the main FAS thread with "regional" issues. (If possible, with no more "amusing" interventions than we from north of the border contributed to the Fusiliers thread!)

This from today's Hootsmon http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1439652004
The death of our regiments

GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN AND JAMES KIRKUP

THE Scottish regiments were yesterday consigned to history as the government wielded the axe in the most dramatic restructuring of the army in modern times.

All six regiments will be rolled up into one Scottish super-regiment. The Royal Scots and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers will disappear, merged into an entirely new battalion; the others will lose their regimental status and will be downgraded to battalions of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, tried to put a gloss on the cuts. It meant an army fit for the challenges of the future, he said. General Sir Mike Jackson, the chief of the general staff, said there had never been a more exciting time to join the army. The army might cherish its traditions, but it could not rely on tradition alone, he insisted.

Weasel words, their furious opponents said, a cynical attempt to deceive the Scottish public. They claimed yesterday that the government had set the regiments on a slow march to oblivion.

The Ministry of Defence had tried to deflect some of the anger by offering a few small concessions.

The surviving Scottish battalions will be known by their old names, followed by the name of the royal regiment and their battalion number in brackets, a deal not offered to the English regiments.

But within hours of the announcement, even that was in doubt. In a letter to commanding officers, Gen Jackson said the names for the new Scottish units remained provisional.

The army itself will ignore the names, referring to the units as 1 SCOT, 2 SCOT or whichever number they have been assigned. [:?: a journalistic spin on normal Army abbreviations] All but one of the regimental tartans will also go - the new regiment will wear the Black Watch, or government tartan - and there will be a new cap badge.

The announcement was delivered by Mr Hoon in a 16-minute lunchtime speech to a noisy House of Commons. There were few surprises. The number of infantry battalions would be reduced from 40 to 36, he said, through a number of mergers, including those in the Scottish Division.

Some armoured units would be reorganised to take on lighter duties. [ gardening? :roll: ] But Mr Hoon also announced a new rangers unit, similar to the Americans’ force, to support Britain’s special forces, an extra weapon in the war on terror. A tri-service unit based on the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, campaigners claimed it was nothing but a ploy to draw attention away from the cuts.

"The over-riding requirement is to make significant enhancements to the key specialist capabilities," Mr Hoon told the Commons. "These are new capabilities - not cuts."

Even Jack McConnell, the First Minister, felt moved to express disappointment at the plans, after previously stating that the identities of all six Scots infantry regiments should be retained and that the KOSB and Royal Scots should not be merged.

Yesterday he said: "While I recognise that the Secretary of State for Defence has to listen to views of the army chiefs and I am pleased that the names and elements of the identities of Scottish regiments have been retained, I am disappointed that these proposals have not gone as far as I would have liked."

Last night, Labour was defeated at Holyrood in a vote on the fate of the regiments. MSPs voted by 61 votes to 59, with seven abstentions, to back a Tory resolution condemning "any cuts and mergers" and calling for the existing six regiments to be retained.

In the Commons, the SNP could not contain its fury. Annabelle Ewing, the MP for the Black Watch heartland of Perth, triggered a walkout by calling Mr Hoon "nothing but a back-stabbing coward".

Sir Alan Haselhurst, the deputy speaker, ordered Ms Ewing to withdraw the remark, but she repeatedly refused, telling him: "I have the utmost respect for you, but I have no respect for the Defence Secretary and I’m afraid I cannot withdraw."

Paul Keetch, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said Mr Hoon was cutting the army to its smallest since the First Afghan War in 1839.

For the Conservatives, Michael Ancram described the announcement as "a dark day for our armed forces".

"The Secretary of State says that this is all about reorganisation. But this statement is not driven by a need to reorganise. It is driven by the Chancellor’s demand for financial cuts," Mr Ancram said.

"Our armed forces deserve better than to be betrayed in this appalling manner by their government."

Scotland’s sole Tory MP, Peter Duncan, accused Mr Hoon of letting the army take the flak for what was a "political decision".

General Alistair Irwin, the adjutant general of the army and colonel of the Black Watch, said it was a "painful business".

He said the new super-regiment would almost certainly be known as the Royal Regiment of Scotland, with a single basic uniform centred on the kilt in government tartan, a decision certain to prove unpopular with the lowland regiments. And he said there would be some concessions to tradition, such as allowing the Black Watch to retain its famous red hackle.

The Save the Scottish Regiments campaign said Mr Hoon had stabbed soldiers in the back, and dismissed the concessions as sops.

"It is only a matter of time before all five regiments are wearing the same uniform and the bracketed names are dropped," said organiser Jeff Duncan. "This is a meaningless gesture in the greater picture of almost 400 years of proud service to the country.

"The appalling decision to merge the Royal Scots with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers will be remembered by all patriotic men and women of Scotland as the ultimate act of betrayal by this Labour government and those cowardly, so-called Scottish MPs and MSPs - mainly Labour - who deserted the men of those regiments in their hour of need."

The Keep our Scottish Battalions campaign also voiced its anger, describing attempts to say that the regiments had been saved as a "a cynical attempt to deceive the Scottish public".

But Gen Jackson said that while he accepted that his plans would cause pain north of the Border, the pain was justified.

"By getting the army right for the future, we had to cause upset," he said.

He was adamant that there could be no room for sentiment when considering the future structure of the army, although Mr Hoon revealed that the Brigade of Guards’ ceremonial duties at Buckingham Palace and around London at official events had saved them from the same restructuring as the Scots.
 
#2
The Herald http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/29971.html

MP expelled for attack on Hoon

DEBORAH SUMMERS, UK Political Correspondent December 17 2004

A SCOTS MP was ordered out of the House of Commons chamber yesterday after refusing to apologise for calling Geoff Hoon, defence secretary, a "backstabbing coward".
The Scottish National Party's Annabelle Ewing was told to leave by Sir Alan Haselhurst, the deputy speaker, during exchanges on the statement on reorganisation of regiments.
SNP colleagues left the chamber with her in protest.
Ms Ewing said: "I am amazed at the gall of the defence secretary as the Black Watch have just returned home from the front line in Iraq where they were sent because they were indispensable to the Army.
"Why then are the Black Watch not indispensable to this government? Surely it's a massive betrayal of our soldiers whose bravery can be contrasted with the defence secretary who is nothing but a backstabbing coward."
Ms Ewing was jeered by MPs and then told by Sir Alan to "withdraw that comment immediately and apologise".
She replied: "Mr Speaker, I have the utmost respect for you but I have no respect for the defence secretary and I'm afraid I cannot withdraw."
Sir Alan angrily said: "You are not helping yourself. I suggest you now get up and withdraw that remark unreservedly."
Ms Ewing refused to withdraw twice more, although Sir Alan said "serious consequences" would follow.
She was then asked to leave the chamber and was followed by colleagues Alex Salmond, Mike Weir and Peter Wishart.
Mr Hoon said of the SNP: "This is a party that does not believe in membership of Nato, does not believe in European defence, has opposed every single deployment of British troops in recent years and I do wonder what would be the point of having an Army in the United Kingdom if they ever got into any kind of power anywhere."
But English MP complained that Scottish regiments were receiving preferential treatment.
Patrick Mercer, Tory homeland security spokesman and a former lieutenant-colonel in the Sherwood Foresters, said English and Welsh regiments were being treated unfairly.
"They will be losing their names, losing their cap-badges and, where appropriate, losing their hackles and other regimental appointments. Scottish regiments will not," he said.
"I know it's all sentiment to you but to those of us who have served in these regiments it is not sentiment, it is crucially important."
Mr Hoon said "traditional accoutrements" would be retained as far as possible.
.
 
#3
Editorial from today's Scotsman. This is from their website http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=1439202004 Not being a 'spotter' :roll: but today's print version has a crass reference to "the most vicious of the cuts" being the "loss of the Black Watch". Good job, whoever in the Hootsmon spotted this and cut it out of the website version. Long before Camp Dogwood etc, the Scotsman was IMO slightly over-egging the Black Watch angle ("Scotland's premier infantry regiment" etc) and no doubt their correspondent Gethin Chamberlain having been an embed with them on Telic 1 had something to do with that. The Black Watch is a splendid regiment and I would think other British regiments benefited from their being showcased and campaigned for so effectively. Rant over, great coverage overall, Scotsman guys, and another trenchant piece below:

Fri 17 Dec 2004

Shameful betrayal of regiments

SO WHAT are the government’s security credentials, exactly? It took the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, only 16 minutes yesterday to eradicate a regiment newly returned from critical and dangerous duty in Iraq. And in the face of what the Prime Minister has consistently maintained to be the greatest threat to our security ever posed by international terrorism, Mr Hoon has left Britain with arguably its smallest army since the Afghan War of 1839.

It is particularly galling for Scotland. We have produced a disproportionate number of regiments for the British Army, and must now bear the brunt of the cuts. Scotland’s six proud regiments with centuries of tradition and hundreds of battle honours are to be merged into a new Royal Regiment of Scotland. Britain’s senior army officer, General Sir Mike Jackson, sought to make the best of this bleakest of days, with the obligatory reference to "tough times". But if Mr Hoon’s announcement was supposed to persuade the Commons, MPs showed little sign of it. There was no disguising the dismal mood. Few are under any illusion that this is anything more than a cost-cutting exercise of the worst sort.

According to Mr Hoon, the plans will make the army "more robust and resilient, able to deploy, support and sustain the enduring expeditionary operations that are essential for a more complex and uncertain world". For all the crafting and buffing that went into this particularly vapid soundbite, there was neither logic to this statement nor any conviction in its presentation.

The restructuring involves cutting the number of infantry battalions from 40 to 36, the move to larger, multi-battalion regiments, a reorganisation of the Territorial Army to lose one battalion and the beefing-up of support and service functions.

What especially saps this statement of conviction - as if the overriding aim of cost-cutting was not enough - is the sense that a better case could be made for doing exactly the opposite of what the minister announced. There is a suspicion, to put it no stronger, that the enlarged regiments will prove cumbersome and top-heavy. And the announcement of stronger technical support at the expense of the front line positively invites a further cost-cutting statement in due course about the need to prune the ancillary functions to "beef-up the front line".

This was a statement driven, not by how best to reshape the army to meet the changing threat of global terrorism, but by a desperate need to find money to cover the MoD’s excesses elsewhere. Yet it is more soldiers that we need, not hugely expensive Eurofighters of dubious worth. Shame on you, Mr Hoon.
 
#4
Opinion piece in the Scotsman by Brigadier Allan Alstead late KOSB. Predicts that the "old names" and other elements of the present regiments will not survive. Link: http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1207&id=1439812004

The Scotsman website also has a piece "Cowardly Way to Treat Troops" by Lt Col Bob Paterson formerly of The Royal Scots. Link: http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1207&id=1441372004
Fri 17 Dec 2004

Hoon will be remembered as Dr Beeching of our armed forces

BRIGADIER ALLAN ALSTEAD

GEOFF Hoon has come up with the measures that we all expected but still dreaded.

It is deeply disappointing to everyone who is associated with the campaigns to preserve the integral identity of the regiments and to all those in Scotland who have links with these regiments.

Clearly, Mr Hoon, while making sympathetic and understanding noises, has paid no attention whatsoever to the arguments that were put to him, or to the appeals that have been made by huge numbers of people from all walks of life in Scotland. By his action, he has booked himself a place in history as the initiator of cuts which will be regarded in Scotland as the most unpopular and damaging since Beeching wielded his axe on the railway network.

If, however, Mr Hoon wants the enforced amalgamation of the Royal Scots and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers to take place, then he still has to address some key matters which have already been brought to his attention and may affect this decision. Firstly, this amalgamation will not be a "happy marriage" as neither regiment wishes to take part. However, those serving will doubtless produce a highly effective battalion if the amalgamation takes place.

With typical government spin, there are offers of names to be retained but combined with the new battalion-number designation within the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The names are to be in front of the battalion number - presumably as a sweetener to Scotland.

It appears that the English regiments are to have their original names after the battalion designations. However, I do not give the old names long to survive as they will doubtless be consigned to the bin, together with other relics of identity which have initially been allowed to remain.

What many Scots do not appear to realise is that these titles will rapidly become meaningless with the demise of the system which currently moves battalions to postings as unit blocks, with training being done as a battalion group for that role. As battalions are to be kept in the same location for some 12 years or more, they will experience a 30 per cent change over each year - 15 per cent normal movement and 15 per cent for General Jackson’s "trickle posting" system. So, within three years, all the battalions will be fragmented and intermixed.

This means the local-area recruiting ties, the links with families and friends, will have been destroyed. In addition, with Scottish battalions based in Northern Ireland, Germany and England, any pretence of local support is simply a myth.

All the Scottish battalions should have been based in Scotland to make proper and effective local links, but this would not fit the Hoon/Jackson concept. This static unit plan will also do very little for recruiting, with only two battalions in Scotland. Mr Hoon did not make it clear how he squared with this plan his claim that he was maintaining the Army Board "golden thread" of local links of continuity. It would seem to be patent nonsense.

It is unfair of General Jackson to complain that Scotland does not produce enough soldiers. Scotland used to have the best-recruited division in the army - before Whitehall started to pull things apart. The services still get 13 per cent of their recruits from Scotland, which has only 8.6 per cent of the population.

• Brigadier Allan Alstead commanded the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 1974-6, and 51 Highland Brigade,1988-90.
 
#5
Will this mean that the individual Scottish Regiments will loose the right to wear their cap badges?

I for one will be sad to no longer see the Red Hackle worn when out and about :(

MrWTW is ex-BW :wink:
 
#6
whiterthanwhite said:
Will this mean that the individual Scottish Regiments will loose the right to wear their cap badges?

I for one will be sad to no longer see the Red Hackle worn when out and about :(

MrWTW is ex-BW :wink:
I understand that it will be a single RSR capbadge Mr WTW, but the present hackles will continue to be worn.
 
#7
Within this new RSR there also is little distinction between Highland and Lowland Bns seemingly.
Uniform has been said to be "common" along with the cap badge.

Any word on tartans/kilts/trews ?
 
#8
RCSignals said:
Within this new RSR there also is little distinction between Highland and Lowland Bns seemingly.
Uniform has been said to be "common" along with the cap badge.

Any word on tartans/kilts/trews ?
RCSignals, my understanding is that it will be the kilt for 2A/2C dress. Single tartan, Govt tartan No 1 ie as you know the one often referred to as Black Watch.
 
#9
Aye, when everything settles down and people come to terms with the new Scottish regiment there'll be much wrangling over uniform. I hope that it will be UNIFORM, otherwise it'll be a QM's nightmare when 15% of each Bn rotate in and out of each unit annually. Easier just to change hackles, assuming that each Bn will wear one. Someone in an earlier thread suggested the Royals & Borderers might wear a black hackle, nice gesture in memory of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).
 
#10
hackle said:
RCSignals, my understanding is that it will be the kilt for 2A/2C dress. Single tartan, Govt tartan No 1 ie as you know the one often referred to as Black Watch.
The outcome will be interesting. Watch the Argyll's otherwise the kilt will be box pleated... :wink:
 
#11
Busterdog said:
Aye, when everything settles down and people come to terms with the new Scottish regiment there'll be much wrangling over uniform. I hope that it will be UNIFORM, otherwise it'll be a QM's nightmare when 15% of each Bn rotate in and out of each unit annually. Easier just to change hackles, assuming that each Bn will wear one. Someone in an earlier thread suggested the Royals & Borderers might wear a black hackle, nice gesture in memory of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).
Yes. It's really all just "gesture" when it comes to the "golden threads"
 
#12
RCSignals said:
hackle said:
RCSignals, my understanding is that it will be the kilt for 2A/2C dress. Single tartan, Govt tartan No 1 ie as you know the one often referred to as Black Watch.
The outcome will be interesting. Watch the Argyll's otherwise the kilt will be box pleated... :wink:
box pleating is not necessarily a bad thing....

Do the Argylls go in for it? never noticed...
 
#13
hackle said:
RCSignals said:
hackle said:
RCSignals, my understanding is that it will be the kilt for 2A/2C dress. Single tartan, Govt tartan No 1 ie as you know the one often referred to as Black Watch.
The outcome will be interesting. Watch the Argyll's otherwise the kilt will be box pleated... :wink:
box pleating is not necessarily a bad thing....

Do the Argylls go in for it? never noticed...
Yes, they pleat to the black line on green. The BW as you know knife pleat on the blue, with many more thinner pleats.

I like Box pleats on a kilt like the Seaforth's but prefer the BW pleating to the Argyll's (really a carry over form the Sutherlands) especially when the BW is "rounded"
 
#15
hackle said:
Maybe best to go for the Mackenzie tartan and avoid these arguments...
Do you think anything will prevent arguments, err, discussions, over it?

I'm guessing Hoon and Jackson do not know the tartan, the kilt and how it's made, and trews (and how they are made) are as much a "badge" as the cap badge and hackle.
 
#16
George Foulkes MP (Labour) on "Why Army reorganisation is essential"

The Herald, Your Letters December 20 2004 http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/30087.shtml

THE campaign to keep the status quo on Scottish regiments is based on emotion rather than logic. That is the view of the colonel of the Black Watch who led them in Iraq and it is a view which I endorse. Combat in the 21st century needs a flexible, professional force of infantry backed up by specialist support. That is why the government is transferring resources to engineering, bomb disposal, logistics and special forces.

The campaign to "save" the regiments is being cynically exploited by the opposition parties for party political advantage. Yet in 1997 we inherited from the Tories an Army with 5000 fewer soldiers than currently and Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin's cuts would reduce the Army to even less than we inherited, let alone plan.

As for the SNP, it is sheer hypocrisy for a party which opposed British troop deployment in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq to argue that we need a bigger army. What would they be used for? If they achieved their goal of independence there would be no place for Scots in the Royal Navy and RAF, let alone the British Army, and no purpose for a Scottish defence force.

Currently because of the economic success of Labour, bringing the lowest level of unemployment, it has been more difficult to recruit to the Scottish regiments in Scotland. That is why a significant number of recent recruits are from Fiji. So much for the argument of traditional recruiting areas.
However, the greatest weakness of their case is that they argue there is a difference between, for example, a Black Watch battalion within a new Royal Regiment of Scotland and a Black Watch regiment of only one battalion. This is manifest nonsense.

The history, tradition, names and accoutrements of existing regiments will continue within each battalion of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Unfortunately, we are not getting the government's case over because so much of the Scottish media – with the notable exception of The Herald – has abandoned reason and impartiality to join the campaign to maintain an army suitable for the nineteenth rather than the 21st century.

However, I believe the Scottish people will, once again, ignore the media hype and bring their common sense to bear to understand the truth behind the propaganda.

George Foulkes, MP, House of Commons.
 
#18
Opinion piece by Alla Massie (Scottish writer and fine political commentator IMO) from yesterday's Sunday Times Scottish edition - only appeared on web today. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2090-1409047,00.html

The Sunday Times - Scotland
December 19, 2004

Comment: Allan Massie: Election must become new battleground

To call a minister a “back-stabbing coward” would be shocking in the cosy, all-on-first-name-terms atmosphere of Holyrood. On Thursday it proved to be too much even for the more robust manners of Westminster.
However, while Annabelle Ewing, the SNP member for Perth, was ejected from the chamber for applying that description to Geoff Hoon, her words won the approval of many Scots.

The SNP has joined the fight to save the Scottish regiments and its support is no doubt welcome. Yet despite Ewing’s obvious sincerity there is something synthetic in the party’s indignation. One cannot help asking: how many regiments would survive in an independent Scotland? How big would a Scottish army be? However, such musing is a distraction. We now know what has been feared for months: the government intends to amalgamate the six Scottish infantry regiments into one five-battalion “super-regiment”.

Each will lose its independent identity and two of the existing regiments, the Royal Scots and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB), will not even retain individual battalion status within this regiment, but will be amalgamated to form one battalion.

Most attention has been directed to the Black Watch, naturally enough, on account of the role the regiment has played so effectively in Iraq; but the fate of the Royal Scots and the KOSB, regiments with an equally proud and distinguished history, is even sadder. The Black Watch will, for the time anyway, retain a shadowy existence; the Royal Scots and the KOSB will disappear.

This whole sordid business has been miserably characteristic of this government. New Labour has paraded its credentials as a government that believes in consultation. It has prided itself on its skill in communication. These past few weeks have exposed the emptiness of these boasts.

New Labour talks of consultation but it does not listen. Reasoned objections to its plans for restructuring the army have been put forward; they have been ignored. The consultation has been a cynical farce.

The government’s arrogance has been remarkable, while the presentation of its case has been characterised by either extraordinary stupidity or contempt for public opinion. The decision was taken months ago, or at least the plan to amalgamate the regiments was drawn up months ago. A government with respect for public opinion would, in these circumstances, have been wise to keep the Scottish regiments out of the public eye. But such is this government’s arrogance that the exact opposite was done.

The Black Watch was dispatched on a dangerous mission in Iraq — dispatched while under sentence of death. The regiment has been in the news for weeks now. Everyone has been reminded of its history and its ability. It has acquitted itself excellently, winning high praise from the commander of the American forces it was deployed to assist. Now it has been, as Ewing said, stabbed in the back.

The cynicism is shocking. Some 2,000 years ago after Julius Caesar’s murder, Octavian, his great-nephew and heir, gathered an army and marched on Rome. He was taken up by Cicero, the veteran politician. When some of Cicero’s friends questioned the wisdom of what he was doing, they got the reply: “The young man must be praised, decorated, and then disposed of.”

That was cynicism equal to Hoon’s. But Hoon should be careful. The boy Octavian survived to become the Emperor Augustus; it was Cicero who got it, literally, in the neck.

Many soldiers agree that some restructuring of the army is necessary, that more flexibility is desirable and that movement between units should be made easier. This is partly because the army is under strength — by about 12,000 men according to some officers. But restructuring by shrinking the army further seems a strange way to remedy this; and to cut the size of the infantry is even stranger.

Hoon says that there will be more “specialist” units. Yet for the peace-keeping role which is now the army’s most frequent job, it is not “specialist” units that are required, it is the infantry, the poor bloody infantry: and, as we have seen in Iraq, this job is most effectively performed by regiments which have a strong sense of identity and an esprit de corps that is born of a consciousness not only of their ability, but also of their regiment’s history and traditions: in short, regiments like the Black Watch, the Royal Scots and the KOSB.

All that is to be thrown away, and thrown away for no good reason that has been advanced. No attempt has been made to argue the case for what is planned. No attempt has been made to meet the arguments of those who object to the proposal.

There has been talk only of difficulties in recruitment and retention. Recruitment will become more difficult. Young men in Scotland do not join the army. They join the regiment. In many cases they join the regiment in which their fathers, uncles and grandfathers have served. The regiment belongs to their extended family and they feel that they belong to it even before they have signed up.

Given that the revelations about the abuse and bullying of young soldiers at the Deepcut Barracks in Surrey are going to make recruitment still more difficult, to cast aside regiments that have earned and retained the respect, admiration and loyalty of those who live in their recruiting territory, the regiment’s calf-country, is folly indeed.

As for the problem of retention, this arises principally from the excessive demands made because the infantry is under strength. There are too few infantry regiments already. Now there will be fewer. If this is sense, Hoon is a statesman in the Churchill class.

It is not too late for this cynical and wrong-headed decision to be reversed. But to bring about a reversal will require more than words, rallies and marches, essential though all these are.

The aim must be to frighten Labour. The Save the Regiments campaigners plan to field candidates in several Labour constituencies and their goal must be to harass Labour candidates and take Labour votes. They should make it clear that nobody who cares for Scotland and for our historic regiments can with a good conscience vote Labour. They must make this message crystal clear: that if Labour MPs do not rebel against these proposals, Labour can no longer claim to be Scotland’s party.

Hoon may not be the coward that Ewing called him, but he is an ambitious career politician. If there is enough opposition, and if that opposition is sufficiently vociferous, then he is going to fear that his career is on the skids.

As for Tony Blair, it should be made impossible for him to appear in Scotland during the coming election campaign without being met by Save the Regiments protests and demonstrations.

New Labour is a bullying party. The best way to deal with bullies is to bully them back.
 
#19
they argue there is a difference between, for example, a Black Watch battalion within a new Royal Regiment of Scotland and a Black Watch regiment of only one battalion. This is manifest nonsense.

The history, tradition, names and accoutrements of existing regiments will continue within each battalion of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.
He does not have a clue.
 
#20
http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1207&id=1451422004

Army merger protest set for London

CHRIS MOONEY and SAM HALSTEAD


CAMPAIGNERS against plans to end The Royal Scots’ proud independent 371-year-old history today announced they will take their fight to London.

Protesters plan to charter two trains to take hundreds of former soldiers, families and supporters from across Scotland to a rally in London in April as they step up the fight.

They will join up with thousands of other campaigners opposing the cull of English regiments in a last-ditch bid to force the Government to drop plans to cut British army infantry battalions from 40 to 36.

An awareness campaign to ensure hundreds of soldiers are registered to vote will also be launched ahead of the General Election next year.

Jeff Duncan, spokesman for the Save the Scottish Regiments campaign, said the London rally would send their message straight to the heart of Westminster.

"This issue will not just go away. The Government has to go away and have a re-think. They must engage in a proper discussion with the people this is going to affect."

The London protest follows a demonstration through Edinburgh on Saturday when more than 3000 former soldiers, the families of serving soldiers and critics marched along Princes Street.

The parade was led by regimental flags and pipe bands with Edinburgh’s Royal Scots heading the marchers representing the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, the Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the Highlanders and the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

Christmas shoppers clapped and cheered as the parade, filled with regimental colour and a sea of glengarries, passed by.

Campaigners carried flags and placards with slogans such as "Hoon’s a Balloon" and "Save our Grandad’s Regiment".

They have vowed to defeat two high-profile city Labour MPs at the next General Election if the amalgamation is allowed to go ahead.

The Save the Scottish Regiments campaign said Transport Secretary Alistair Darling and Enterprise Minister Nigel Griffiths will be key targets at the next election.

Crowds gathered in Princes Street Gardens at about mid-day to hear rallying cries from former high-ranking soldiers and politicians, including Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Lesley Hinds, Tory leader David McLetchie and the SNP’s Alex Salmond. No Labour MSPs attended the rally, despite being invited.

Stuart Crawford of Keep Our Scottish Battalions campaign said: "If Geoff Hoon and the government weren’t aware of the strength of feeling north of the border before, well they know now."

Saturday’s outpouring of anger followed last Thursday’s announcement by Mr Hoon that Edinburgh’s Royal Scots are to be merged with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

The regiment’s famous name will live on in the title of the new battalion which it will help form within a Scottish super-regiment.

The Black Watch and Scotland’s other infantry regiments will also become battalions within the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The title of the Edinburgh regiment’s unit will be The Royal Scots, King’s Own Scottish Borderers (1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland).

The new regiment will have a single cap badge, but Mr Hoon pledged that steps would be taken to preserve the identity of the old regiments within the new set up. The Royal Scots will retain their headquarters in the Capital and will go on recruiting locally.

Two Territorial Army units will also be attached to the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.

It won;t just go away as easily as Hoon and Jackson think it will.

A chance for "Save the English Regiments" Campaigners to join in !
 

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